Perhaps the most important quality that sets a leader apart from a mere manager is the ability to construct and articulate a vision. Leaders use vision to establish and interpret a hopeful image of the future. This visual picture must be persuasive, attractive and desirable to everyone on the team. The need for vision is important for organizations, group activities and family relationships. Leadership is enhanced by the ability to visualize both the challenges of today and the aspirations and hopes of a better tomorrow. To be most effective, this vision needs to be communicated so clearly that everyone is able to mentally grasp it and picture themselves living in that future. Vision needs to be possible and believable, but it also needs to be challenging and have an unrestricted feel to it. For example, a part of the MicrosoftÒ Corporation’s vision has been “a computer on every desk and in every home.”
Providing vision is always an important need for a leader. However, it is even more important during times of stress or crisis. During times of great difficulty, people especially need a positive vision of meaning and hope. When either an individual or an organization is in a state of confusion and in despair, they are most receptive to an optimistic illustration of a mission or purpose! How can leaders provide this kind of a visionary message? It is only possible to those who take the time and effort to discover the most fervent desires and deepest values of their supporters. Experienced leaders realize there is more than a single desire and value to be discovered. In reality, the future often announces itself from afar. For most, the noisy clutter of today drowns out the timid sounds of events to come. For the leader, focused attention on these weak timid sounds provides the seeds of vision for a better tomorrow. When communicated clearly, a vision helps people to overcome their perceived defensive positions and self-limitations to discover something bigger than themselves. It inspires them to desire membership within a group and to accept a degree of self-sacrifice. I believe author and management consultant Peter Block defines vision in a majestic way as:
“Our deepest expression of what we want. It is the preferred future, a desirable state, an ideal state, an expression of optimism. It expresses the spiritual and idealistic side of human nature. It is a dream created in our waking hours of how we would like our lives to be.”
In the past, an organization’s vision was typically developed and established by a single individual such as the president or CEO. A single leader exclusively created a vision and then persuaded others to accept it. In recent times, many are now seeing the wisdom of developing a vision that incorporates the aspirations of more than one individual or a small elite group of individuals. In our modern cultural climate, no amount of oratory skill or personal charisma can sell a limited vision that reflects only one leader’s views. Vision isn’t about wildly claiming to know the future. It is about discovering the hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow and providing the motivation to get there. Leadership recognizes that even the seeds of imperfectly formed images expressed by others can also help create a new vision.
Once a vision is congealed, how does the leader convey the mission and inspire others onward? Most people would say the answer is to provide stirring oratory or charisma. Yet these powerful tools are not absolutely necessary for visionary leadership. For example, Thomas Jefferson was a poor orator and public speaker. Yet he used his polished writing skills and personal warmth to motivate others. Other powerful tools include the use of symbols and stories to communicate a vision. Another power tool is to frame a common experience that followers can all relate to. The famous “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King framed the experience of the March on Washington in 1963 to his followers. King framed the event by inspiring his listeners to feel that history was being made in their very presence.
Another recognized way for the leader to communicate vision is to express it as often as possible with vivid imagery that includes slogans or colorful emotional language. Take the time to explain just how the vision can be achieved and exhibit a personal example of optimism and confidence. As others move toward acceptance of the vision, express confidence in their attitudes and skills. Catch them doing something well and help them to develop self-confidence. As an example, provide easier tasks in the early stages of a project to promote increased confidence among co-workers or followers. As a leader, remember to celebrate the successes and milestones of achievement toward the vision. This helps to generate enthusiasm and excitement since everyone appreciates recognition and rewards.
Finally, as a leader you must lead by personal example, modeling the values you expect of others. Nothing erodes a vision more quickly than a hypocritical leader who violates expected standards and values. Your example should also include the desire to give others the authority and empowerment they need to do their jobs and get them done effectively. Remember, empowering means to provide the resources others need to carry out the tasks assigned to them.
In conclusion, consider the importance of your own personal vision. Outside of the business world we also need to maintain a vision within our families and our personal lives. Take the time to ponder your own personal vision! Write it down as your very own mission statement and refer to it often. As an individual it will give you the optimistic inspiration for a better tomorrow and it will provide you with a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
For weLEAD, this is Greg Thomas reminding you that it was Martin Tupper who once said,
“It is sure to be dark, if you shut your eyes!”
Perhaps the most important quality that sets a leader apart from a mere manager is the ability to construct and articulate a vision. Leaders use vision to establish and interpret a hopeful image of the future. This visual picture must be persuasive, attractive and desirable to everyone on the team. The need for vision is important for organizations, group activities and family relatiGreg L.Thomas Articles Tips
When we drain power from a car battery it runs down. If we do this long enough, the battery will eventually become totally dead. In physics we call this “entropy”, which means that anything left to itself will eventually disintegrate until it reaches its most elemental form. Entropy happens when there is neglect. Neglect your body, and you will deteriorate. Neglect your car battery, and it will eventually die. Anything that is not attended to and renewed will deteriorate over time. That is why we have an alternator in our car. The alternator recharges the battery. It combats entropy. All things need caring for—and your employees are no exception. Nothing neglected will remain productive over time.
Employees are like car batteries. If you are always taking from them, but never “charging them up” emotionally, eventually they will run down. Stephen Covey and others use the metaphor of the Emotional Bank Account (EBA). Negative actions and neglect can become withdrawals against a person’s EBA. On the other hand, courtesies, celebrations, and affirmations are deposits to the EBA. If there are a lot of withdrawals, and few or no deposits, a person’s EBA will become so overdrawn that the relationship will become bankrupt.
Effective leaders understand this concept and recognize the importance of giving encouragement and positive feedback on a regular basis. Such feedback should not be manipulative in nature, but should flow from a genuine appreciation and belief in their people. Effective leaders are obsessed with finding something good about an employee. They are very alert to opportunities to celebrate the achievement of others. These acts of encouragement are a real key to releasing the potential in people and promoting the use of their gifts and talents.
Few employees receive more affirmation from superiors than Southwest Airline employees. Southwest Airlines is recognized year after year by Fortune magazine as one of the best companies to work for in America. They are also famous for recognizing employees and celebrating their achievements. One token of this is a giant T-shirt hanging in the headquarters building of Southwest Airlines at Love Field. Imprinted on the shirt is this message:
“How many Southwest employees does it take to change a light bulb?” At the bottom of the shirt is the answer: “Four. One to actually change the light bulb and three to design the T-shirt to celebrate it!”
Southwest Airlines says that it uses thousands of small gestures to send big messages. The halls of their corporate headquarters are literally covered from floor to ceiling with photos, plaques, certificates, awards, honors, and various memorabilia that capture the spirit of their culture. Some have even accused Southwest executives of constructing more office space just so they could gain additional wall space in the halls to hang photos of employees and their families.
In the fall of 1999, I was selected as the Honor’s Seminar faculty member at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. I had proposed teaching a course entitled Personal and Organizational Leadership, with an emphasis on studying the top companies on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list. That year Southwest Airlines was the number four company on the list.
Toward the end of the semester the class took a field trip to visit the number one and number four companies on the Fortune 100 Best list (Synovus Financial and Southwest Airlines). Southwest had donated four round-trip tickets for our trip. We also used two round trip tickets from my Southwest Airlines frequent flyer program. We still had to buy tickets for one leg of the trip. I called the Southwest Airlines reservation number and got a very nice and helpful young lady on the line. I explained that making the reservations would be complicated since we had frequent flyer miles, free tickets from Southwest, and we also needed to buy tickets for one leg of the trip. However, I didn’t know which flight to buy, since we wanted to purchase tickets for the least expensive flight—applying the free tickets to the more expensive flights.
She searched diligently to find the least expensive flight of the trip. There was just one problem. That flight did not have enough seats left at the rock bottom fare. We needed two additional seats at that fare. She suggested that since I was working with the executive office at Southwest to arrange our tour that I should call and ask if they could authorize her to sell all the tickets at the lowest fare!
I was so impressed with this reservationist and her attitude of service. She had worked almost a half-hour to book all the flights and now she would hold the two seats until I asked the executive office to release the seats at the lower fare! She was truly working to save us money and I really appreciated that. I got her name and phone number. I discovered that she was working at a phone center in Oklahoma. I thanked her and hung up.
I then called the executive assistant to the executive office at Southwest and told her the situation. She said there would be no problem lowering the fare for the two seats and that she would take care of it immediately. I gave her the reservations’ name and phone number. Then I mentioned that the reservationist had done an outstanding job helping me. I suggested that someone should mention this to her supervisor.
About ten minutes later my phone rang. It was the reservationist in Oklahoma. She sounded very excited and said, “You can’t believe what just happened to me! I just received a call from Colleen Barrett. She personally thanked me for giving you such extraordinary service!”
For those who don’t recognize her name, Colleen is the Executive Vice President of Southwest Airlines, and the Chair of the corporate Culture Committee. Within five minutes of my suggesting someone should recognize the fine work of this reservationist, the Executive Vice President of Southwest Airlines—a company of over 29,000 employees—had made a personal call to express her appreciation to the reservationist! I can tell you for certain that this reservationist received an incredible deposit to her Emotional Bank Account that day! This affirmation was like a powerful charge to her battery.
Such small gestures certainly do send big messages at Southwest. They can also send big messages within your organization. Do you look for opportunities to celebrate employee accomplishments, both great and small, or do you focus on finding fault and criticizing? Are most of the transactions you conduct with your employees considered “deposits” or “withdrawals” to their Emotional Bank Accounts?
Too many organizational cultures are still driven by criticism, fear, and punishment. (The floggings will continue until morale improves!) Celebrations and affirmations inspire, motivate, and reenergize people. Isn’t that what effective leadership is all about? Are you a “battery drainer” or a “battery charger”?
Comments to: email@example.com
About the author:
Dr. J. Howard Baker is Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Last year Dr. Baker taught an Honors Seminar at ULM, which included a field trip to the top servant leadership companies in America. Dr. Baker has been a Franklin Covey 7 Habits of Highly Effective People certified facilitator for seven years, and has served the University of Texas at Tyler as their facilitator for four years. During the summer he offers a graduate and undergraduate course at U. T. Tyler in personal and organizational leadership. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington.
When we drain power from a car battery it runs down. If we do this long enough, the battery will eventually become totally dead. In physics we call this “entropy”, which means that anything left to itself will eventually disintegrate until it reaches its most elemental form. Entropy happens when there is neglect. Neglect your body, and you will deteriorate. Neglect yourDr. J. Howard Baker Articles
Leadership is a wonderful opportunity. You have your hands on the controls of your organization. If you don’t like what is going on, then look in the mirror. You are setting the standard on what is expected, what is acceptable, and what is possible. If you ask for it, you can get valuable feedback from your employees, customers, and owners that just might change your perspective.
People are your organization’s most valuable resource. Many leaders say it, but too few leaders act like it. People are street smart. You can’t fool them very long. People don’t forget what you do or how you act, but they will quickly forget what you say unless it is contrary to your actions. The old saying is true – ‘Talk talks, walk talks, but walk talks louder than talk talks’!
You become isolated from the realities of working in your organization. People filter what they tell you. But, in a very short period of time you can get valuable input from all of your employees to recalibrate your perspective. This input will help you get a picture of how people view working in your organization compared to what you think or how you might want things to be. It is difficult for you to get straight-forward, objective feedback through the normal chain of command. Getting feedback that is politically correct or feedback that your people think you want to hear only serves to build your ego, not your business. Time is money. Any process, any practice, or any behavior that wastes your people’s time or contributes to non-productive energy wastes your money.
If you want to get a quick feel for what your people think, what frustrates your people, and what is being filtered in the communication to you, then commit to do a few simple exercises. The time it takes is minor compared to the insight you will gain.
Answer each the following questions with one of three choices -- good enough, needs improvement, or hurting us:
1) In the customer’s eyes we are leading all competition in understanding and addressing their future needs.
2) Our customers choose our products and services because we provide more value and higher quality than our competition does.
3) We are keeping our resources focused on the important things because we have very few distractions that divert key manager’s time.
4) I know that our processes are effectively aligned to support our vision, mission, key values, key business objectives, and results measures.
5) Our processes effectively integrate to get maximum, focused value from our resources.
6) We aggressively seek to compare and to learn what other organizations may do better than we do.
7) We put considerable effort into developing and retaining a skilled, motivated, productive, and happy workforce to achieve extraordinary results.
8) We routinely achieve results that meet or exceed our strategic and tactical business objectives.
Now ask yourself ‘how do I know’ for each question. What process do you have in place that measures and supports your answer to the above? How do you collect the information, validate the information, analyze the information, process the information, and manage by the information? Too many leaders have to admit that they do not have the key measures or processes to really support their perceptions to these questions. This is your first look in the mirror.
Next, go out to your people – all of your people. Give them a presentation and interact with them on a topic that is of interest to them. Ask each person attending to give you two suggestions right then on something they would do or change to make things better if they could take that action right now. You do not need to know who provided the recommendations unless your people elect to put their name on the paper. Collect the suggestions before they leave the meeting area. Read every suggestion and summarize them. You will gain tremendous insight on areas within which you need to think, reflect, and dig further. These suggestions will hit right in the heart of your organization’s culture, processes, people, and alignment. This is your second quick look in the mirror.
Make some changes immediately based on the input. Show your people you listen and changes can happen quickly.
Go out and ask all of your managers, supervisors, professionals, and as many employees as possible to list for you in writing the following. You may have to let the people submit this anonymously if there is questionable trust in your organization.
1) the top five roadblocks and barriers to getting things done
2) the first 3 changes they should make in their department
3) the first 3 changes they would make someplace else in the organization
4) the 2 things they would do immediately if they were king for a day in your organization and their action could not be undone
5) the top 3 concerns they have as an employee of your organization
6) a list of any perceived sacred cows or things that cannot be changed or touched
7) a list of any perceived double standards in the organization where people are not treated the same
Read and summarize all of the above. Categorize the input into culture, process, people, or alignment areas. This is your third quick look in the mirror.
Makes some changes immediately based on the input. Again show your people that you listen and changes can happen quickly.
Now you are armed with information to conduct a fast-paced, simulation exercise with a good cross section of your organization’s leaders, natural leaders, hourly employees, bargaining employees, and professionals. You will not personally participate in the exercise but will engage a facilitator that has run an organization at least as large as yours to challenge and drive your people out of their comfort zone during the exercise. Your focus during this exercise will be to watch the group dynamics, thought processes, contributions, and basic skills to address a difficult problem. In less than 2 days you will gain tremendous additional insight into keys of what makes your organization tick or sputter...
The purpose of the simulation exercise is to quickly be able to determine how well your people understand your environment, products, customers, processes, bureaucracy, capabilities, barriers to progress, and what it takes to get something done. Many times people will see and understand only a small percentage of what must be done to take on something challenging. Time is a crutch. Normally meetings are scheduled days or weeks apart but no new, substantive information is obtained. Precious time is lost. In the simulation exercise your people must make decisions and sequentially act on those decisions. They quickly learn that you may not have all the information you maybe need or want but that is reality. People will soon learn the value of teamwork, diversity, and collaboration when they are accountable for making something happen in less than a perfect situation.
Pick a problem that could be real to the group and one that they have not tried to address. For example, the price on an item must be reduced at the actual cost level by 30% within 4 years. Your people can reduce cost by cutting cost, increasing revenues upon which overheads are charged, or other permeations and combinations. An agenda should be developed to challenge their skills and their business knowledge. Divide your people up into small working groups. Each group will provide answers to each exercise. Then all participants will discuss the input received and explained from each group and agree upon one response that best represents their collective knowledge and thinking. Your people will quickly see that not everyone sees things the same and that collaboration is a powerful tool to move forward.
You should answer questions like the following first and then compare your answers to the answers your simulation participants agreed upon. Set specific times for the working groups to answer within the group, discuss with all participants, and then collaborate to agree on their best response to tasks like the following:
1) Describe your competitive environment and its impact upon your organization.
2) List the three most important competitive variables for your organization to increase revenue. Rank the variables in highest to lowest order of importance. Determine key milestones. State in months how quickly these significant milestones can be achieved for each variable.
3) List the three most important specific actions that need to happen for each of the top four ranked competitive variables to increase revenue. Rank the actions in highest to lowest order of importance.
4) Using the collectively agreed upon top four ranked specific actions, give two examples that demonstrate your organization has accomplished such actions in the past 12 months.
5) Grade your organization using school grades (A,B, C, D, F) on each of the following:
a. Having the knowledge of what it takes and the competency to execute to compete and beat the best
b. Focus and knowledge-based strategy to increase revenues
c. Energized commitment to total quality excellence
d. Timely, aggressive, and consistent challenge to status quo that delivers results
e. Enthusiasm for rapid change
f. Total team orientation and absence of different functional or personal agendas
g. Communication with understanding on needs, strategy, and plan
h. Management leads by example and eliminates behavior inconsistent with performing at customer-acknowledged excellence levels
i. Sense of urgency and ability to get results for competitive variable #1
j. Sense of urgency and ability to get results for competitive variable #2
k. Sense of urgency and ability to get results for competitive variable #3
6) Describe in five bullet points or less, each bullet point six words or less, the specific challenge to your organization presented in this simulation.
7) Provide the top three summary solutions (six words or less) of what needs to be done in order to meet the specific challenges.
8) List the top three barriers to these solutions
9) List the top five specific cost reduction opportunities and estimate the total dollar savings for each of the five opportunities. Rank the opportunities in importance from most important to least important.
10) To realize each opportunity, list the top three changes that must take place. Rank the changes in order of importance from most important to least important.
11) Make a pie chart to summarize the percentage of total cost reduction that would come from the special cost reduction opportunities. The initiatives must add up to meet the 30% reduction target and pie chart slices must add up to 100%.
12) Using the two biggest slices from the pie chart, prepare a top level project plan and time line, in three-month increments, beginning today, and indicate how much of your savings will be realized in each three-month period. The total savings must add up to the total saving projected on the pie chart for these two slices.
13) Group discussion on what was learned, what you did right, what you could improve, and action assignments.
This is your fourth look in the mirror. In an exercise like this, you would like more facts and more time. You will never have all the facts and you could always use more time. What is more important though is learning what and how your people think with what they know today. That is why all answers are short and concise. You get the point without the usual accompanying explanation, clarification, and caveats.
Don’t be surprised if the discussions get lively. Don’t be surprised to see suppressed feelings rise to the surface. Don’t be surprised to see a lack of knowledge, skill, and basic understanding of issues and solutions. Don’t be surprised to see right in the room some of your fundamental roadblocks and barriers to progress.
Seldom does a group of people get to work together on such a challenging and mentally stimulating exercise. Seldom do people at all levels of your organization get to appreciate what you do and the decisions you have to make as a leader. Seldom do you get the opportunity to get so much non-routine information and see your people under fire when decisions must be made and positions negotiated within short time periods.
It is time to reflect. Compare your answers to the simulation exercise with the answers of your people. What have you learned? Take time to think. Pull out your strategic and tactical objectives. Where do you have gaps in your processes? Where do you have alignment challenges? What do you need to adjust to address fundamental capability, training, hiring, behaviors, procedures, processes, systems, or approach? What performance measures do you need to put in place? What is your next step?
Take the challenge. The steps forward with your new information and perspective are fun and invigorating. Now you can see why it must be you. You have your hands on all the controls. Open up communication. Stop, look, listen, and learn together. Your people will be more ready to work together to get the important things done. You will be better able to lead and remove the roadblocks and barriers in their way. Your metrics will show your progress and encourage everyone. These and future looks in the mirror will pay tremendous benefits. Try it!
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author:
Rick Loghry is President of Actions Speak, LLC, a firm providing custom, affordable education and training focused on aligning culture, processes, and people to improve operating results. Rick has 30+ years experience working as a change agent to improve operations. Prior to starting Actions Speak, LLC, he was President of a Forbes top 500 privately held company. He holds a B.S. in Science and MBA from Rollins College.
Leadership is a wonderful opportunity. You have your hands on the controls of your organization. If you don’t like what is going on, then look in the mirror. You are setting the standard on what is expected, what is acceptable, and what is possible. If you ask for it, you can get valuable feedback from your employees, customers, and owners that just might change your perspective.Rick Loghry Articles
It was a warm summer day in the 1930’s and one of the greatest American baseball players of all time was at bat. The quiet, gentle man was Lou Gehrig, one of the best hitters ever to wear the uniform of the New York Yankees. His durability as a first baseman and consistent hitter earned him the nickname of the “Iron Horse”. During this day Gehrig would do something totally out of character. As the first pitch came at him, he swung and missed. “Strike One” bellowed the umpire. Then came the next pitch.
Again, the “Iron Horse” swung and missed. “Strike Two” intoned the umpire once again. On the third pitch Gehrig stood by and watched the ball pass by him without even an attempted swing. “Strike Three…your out!” the umpire shouted. Then something unusual happened! Lou Gehrig, one of the classiest men ever to play baseball and a solid gentleman slammed down his bat in disgust and was seen having a few words with the umpire. After the game, a shocked media reporter asked him what he was complaining to the umpire about. “Oh…I didn’t complain,” stated Gehrig. “I simply told him that I would give one thousand dollars for a chance at that last ball again!” Within this story is a powerful lesson for leaders to consider. Constructive accomplishment requires decision. For a leader to rely on chance or luck to be a deciding factor is to court disaster. Sometimes, the only risk is not taking one.
It is understandable that we should want to avoid making decisions for a number of reasons. First of all, it is often risky. Risk is defined as the possibility of suffering harm, loss or danger. We tend to be comfortable in our patterns and expectations. Often times making a decision means we must step out of our “comfort zone” into the unknown. Through past experience we know that even a slight shift in our course can have dramatic effects on what our lives will be. Secondly, leaders often make decisions while they are slightly ahead of the prevailing group or culture. It is often a lonely, thankless experience with little visible support. This situation is compounded when the leader has not taken the time and energy to build a strong consensus among others. Even on a personal level, we may avoid or delay making decisions about our family, careers or finances because of an aversion to risk and fear of failure.
But here is an important fact about decision-making and risk. We will frequently come to a crossroads in life or business where an important decision mustbe made. We have a choice to make. Either we make the decision, or “time and chance” will decide for us what we were unwilling to decide for ourselves! Either way, a decision will be made. The question is, will we take charge and assume greater control of the outcome, or will we allow luck or fate to determine the outcome for us? There is an old story about two men drifting on a raft traveling down the Niagara River toward the ominous Niagara Falls. They began to argue about how far they were from the falls and when they should go ashore. The argument continued…far too long. While they delayed making a decision, time made the decision for them, with unfortunate results.
An example of this situation can be seen in the recent terrorist event experienced in the United States. For many years, one event after another warned American leaders that terrorism was at our shore. The 1993 World Trade Center Bombing was a “wake up call” to a sheltered nation about the real threat of terrorism. Six people died in the blast, which caused an estimated $600 million in property and other economic damage. Trials that followed convicted six people of carrying out the attack. In 1995, an American citizen bombed a Federal Building in Oklahoma City causing the death of 168 people and injuring more than 500, making it the deadliest terrorist attack at that time in the United States. Other attacks again Americans included hijackings, embassy bombings, and assaults against American ships in harbor. It was time for leadership, and the courage to make some difficult decisions. American leaders did what democratic leaders often do in this kind of a situation. In 1996, the American Congress passed, and the President signed antiterrorism legislation to strengthen the power of the federal government to respond to both international and domestic terrorism. It was weak legislation intended to show citizens that something was being done. But it should have been time for decisive action and commitment. It would have required an enormous investment in resources and greater government scrutiny. Political leaders were unwilling to make the tough decisions. On September 11th, 2001 time decided for us what we were unwilling to decide for ourselves.
The purpose of this article is not to encourage you to lurch into ill-advised or poor decision making. Leaders should seek the facts, get advice, do the research and build support whenever possible. But there does come a time when a decision…the decision must be made. It has been said that former American President and World War II General Dwight D. Eisenhower once commented, “A wrong decision is better than indecision”. Think about why a military General would have made this comment. A wrong decision is at least a choice, and if that choice is wrong there if often enough time to retrench, regroup and alter the course. However, indecision only erodes precious time and often removes the option of real choice from the decision maker. Again, sometimes the only risk is not taking one. As author and educator Gary Dessler states, “Very few decisions are forever; there is more “give” in most decisions than we realize. While many major strategic decisions are hard to reverse, most poor decisions won’t mean the end of the world for you, so don’t become frozen in the finality of your decision”. Even Lou Gehrig got a chance to bat again the very next day!
At the heart and core of leadership is also the willingness to take personal responsibility for a difficult decision. On June 6, 1944, in World War II, General Eisenhower agonized over a difficult decision to allow Allied forces to land in Normandy, France. The weather had been poor and threatened to derail the Allied assault. A window of opportunity was closing and it was time for decisive action. Eisenhower gave approval for the landing. However, he also took the time to write an announcement to be broadcast in case the landing failed and the Allies were unable to secure a beachhead. In the handwritten announcement, Eisenhower accepted full responsibility for the failure. Thankfully, it was never needed!
Many experts in management believe that not all decisions are the same. They differentiate between what they call programmed and nonprogrammeddecisions. Programmed decisions are defined as ones that are repetitive and can typically be resolved through rational analysis and mechanical procedures. It is believed that the overwhelming majority of decisions we make are programmed decisions. Standard rules of deduction can be applied to these decision types. Of course this is easier said than done! This assumes one’s thinking is rational and that the “standard rules of deduction” are sound and valid. On the other hand, nonprogrammed decisions are defined as novel and unique in nature. This includes crisis situations or when we are at a personal crossroad in life. These decisions rely heavily on our judgment and values rather than clear-cut analysis. They are typically more urgent and require greater focus. These are the tough agonizing decisions that may need to be based on incomplete information and unknown criteria. Sometimes there is no clear choice of what is right or wrong. There may be little “black and white” and mostly shades of gray. This is where we need to muster all the creativity and intuition we can find deep within ourselves. Because these nonprogrammed decisions are usually strategic, the risk and consequences can be greater.
Here are a few tips to improve your decision-making ability. Recognize the facts as they really are and not how you want to see them. It is easy to ignore or reinterpret the facts because we are looking to support a conclusion we desire. For example, those who study theology often fall prey to a problem called proof-texting. This is where the theologian first comes to aconclusion, and then looks for scriptures to support a preconceived belief. Maintain your objectivity so your decision is based on an intelligent analysis of the actual facts and not a preconceived decision. Don’t be afraid to use your intuition. This is where you unconsciously make a decision based on accumulated experience and knowledge. Having firm personal values and strong ethics add to the benefit of good intuition. Psychiatrist Sigmund Freud stated,
“When making a decision of minor importance I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves. In the important decisions of our personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature.”
Obviously if the deep inner needs of our nature are based on a foundation of integrity and genuine concern for others, our intuition will serve us well. Another decision-making tip is to be careful not to use shortcuts to save time. A common shortcut is called heuristics. This is used to speed up decision-making by applying “rules of thumb” to quickly reach a conclusion. For example, a senior manager may say, “I only want individuals with advanced degrees to apply for this position”. This may speed up the selection process, but may also mean the bestqualified individual is rejected. The final tip I offer is to avoid anchoring. The trait of anchoring is where we give too much credence to the first information or set of facts that we hear. This first bit of information then becomes the benchmark by which the decision will be made and later information that is contrary is minimized.
The next time you are confronted with the need to make a decision, I hope you will remember the story of Lou Gerhig. It is better to choose your own course and perhaps even go down “swinging” than to sit idly by and allow luck or chance to make the decision for you. A leader’s calling is to make the hard decisions when they are needed. Yes, there is a risk to decision-making, but there is often a greater risk when we do nothing and allow fate to decide for us. So be sure you gather the facts, get sound advice, do the necessary research and try to build support from others. Then make the decision, because sometimes the only risk is not taking one!
Comments to: email@example.com
About the author:
Greg has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within the electrical distribution industry. Some of his positions have included being a National Sales Manager, National Marketing Manager and for the past 9 years that of Regional Sales Manager. He also has extensive experience in public speaking and has written articles for various publications. Greg has a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University where he presently serves as an adjunct faculty member teaching courses in management. Greg is also the president and founder of weLEAD Incorporated.
Dessler, Gary. Management – Leading People and Organizations in the 21st Century. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001
Fitzgerald, Ernest A. Keeping Pace: Inspirations In The Air. Greensboro, North Carolina: Pace Communications, Inc., 1988
Heilbroner, Robert. How To Make an Intelligent Decision. Think, December 1990, pp. 2-4
It was a warm summer day in the 1930’s and one of the greatest American baseball players of all time was at bat. The quiet, gentle man was Lou Gehrig, one of the best hitters ever to wear the uniform of the New York Yankees. His durability as a first baseman and consistent hitter earned him the nickname of the “Iron Horse”. During this day Gehrig would do something totallyGreg L. Thomas Articles
Peter Senge, MIT professor and author of The Fifth Discipline, said:
“No one in the past 30 years has had a more profound impact on thinking about leadership than Robert Greenleaf.”
Robert Greenleaf, author of the classic series of essays on the theme “the servant as leader,” was a powerful advocate of mentoring. In The Power of Servant Leadership, edited by Larry Spears, Robert Greenleaf proposed that there are psychic rewards to be gained by oldsters who take the time and trouble to mentor the young to become servant-leaders.
He stated, “What could bring more satisfaction to oldsters than helping some of the young to become servant-leaders?” (page 54)
As an oldster himself at the time of his writing, he saw the need for a more caring society, but had little confidence that many of the leaders of his generation would actually meet the challenge. He was definitely not persuaded that much progress toward a caring society would “be initiated by those who are now established as leaders.” He stated that he did “not expect much” from his contemporaries. (page 53)
Robert Greenleaf saw that once an individual rose to a position of power and influence with a nonservant mindset, it would probably take a metanoia (a profound transformation or conversion) to change such a leader into a true servant-leader. He stated:
“For the older ones among us who are ‘in charge,’ nothing short of a ‘peak’ experience, like religious conversion…seems to have much chance of converting a confirmed nonservant into an affirmative servant.” (page 23)
Although many influential leaders consider themselves effective mentors and servant-leaders, the fruits often do not bear this out. Often the person who is energized and inspired to be an able mentor of the young is not a person of great formal power and influence. In fact, a very successful mentor is likely to be one who has not risen to the top within his or her organization, but has remained in a lower level position in order to have greater access to young people.
Superiors may consider these effective mentors as oddballs. This is because such persons may not want to conform to the organization’s culture and rise to a position of prominence. Many organizational cultures place little value on truly growing people and helping young people internalize a lifestyle of service. You can see this in academia, where senior faculty may pay lip service to mentoring junior faculty and students, but in reality there is a spirit of competition and a “scarcity mentality” driven by self-interest. Institutional rewards often go to those most driven by such self-interest, rather than recognizing and rewarding those who are highly effective mentors.
Able mentors often prefer to spend their time and energy preparing and inspiring the next generation to become effective mentors and servant-leaders. They see their mentees as those who will become the builders of more serving institutions in the future. These visionary mentors are often very talented at growing people. They are driven by a vision of the future. They believe that there is tremendous psychic reward in giving themselves to make a difference in the lives of others.
Robert Greenleaf provided this striking example in an address he made to a gathering of university students: (page 102– The Power of Servant Leadership)
“Thomas Jefferson had such a mentor in George Wythe, the Williamsburg lawyer under whom Jefferson apprenticed. Without the influence of George Wythe, there might not have been a Jefferson to write The Declaration of Independence or draft the statutes in Virginia that shaped the Constitution. He might have settled for the role of eccentric Virginia scholar. Find such a mentor if you can.”
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author:
Dr. Howard Baker is Director of Education for INSPIRE! Learning Systems. He holds a B.S. in Management from Samford University, a Master of Accounting (MAcc) from the University of Southern California and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Texas at Arlington. He has been a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) since 1989. He is an adjunct professor in both Business Administration and Public Administration at the University of Texas at Tyler. Dr. Baker is a lifetime charter member of weLEAD and the founding editor of the weLEADInLearning web site’s E-Journal of Organizational Learning and Leadership located atwww.weleadinlearning.org. His weLEAD email address is email@example.com.
Peter Senge, MIT professor and author of The Fifth Discipline, said: “No one in the past 30 years has had a more profound impact on thinking about leadership than Robert Greenleaf.” Robert Greenleaf, author of the classic series of essays on the theme “the servant as leader,” was a powerful advocate of mentoring. In The Power of Servant LeadBy Dr. Howard Baker Articles Other
Have you heard the story about a truck that got stuck under a bridge? It is said that a box truck was attempting to pass under a large bridge. As the truck driver approached the structure he felt there was enough room to clear the bottom of the steel and concrete deck of the bridge. But as he was passing under, he suddenly hear a loud screeching noise! The screech turned in to a grind and the lurching truck came to a dead stop! It was now locked under the bridge and could go neither forward or backward. Putting the transmission in reverse, or one of the forward gears was to no avail as the vehicle was now firmly lodged directly under the bridge. Traffic came to a complete standstill and naturally the local authorities were called out to examine the situation. How would they get the truck out from under the bridge?
A tow truck was sent out to try to pull the vehicle free. A county engineer arrived to examine this difficult situation. There were deep discussions and many measurements were made. Various calculations were performed to determine how much of the truck or bridge would be destroyed if the vehicle was simply yanked or pulled out! If too much of the bridge’s concrete was broken in the process, it might cause the bridge to become unsafe. What if road equipment was brought in to cut a grove into the road under the vehicle tires to lower it? What if heavy equipment was brought in to lift the bridge just a few inches? Traffic continued to back up and discussions raged on as frustrated workers and authorities pondered this difficult problem. A crowd also gathered around the scene to watch all the exciting activity and hubbub. Then something funny happened as a worker was walking by part of the crowd and surveying the situation. A little boy who had previously been riding his bicycle, and had stopped to glare, said to the man, “Why not let the air out of the tires?” “What?”, stated the worker in incredulous shock! “What did you say?” The boy repeated, “Why not let the air out of the tires?” From this simple observation and statement, an easy and effective solution was found to a difficult problem that had confounded some very bright and energetic people!
What the little boy demonstrated is what every effective leader needs to achieve personal success! The boy had imagination. Within his mind, he dug deep for a creative solution and envisioned the vehicle becoming shorter because the tires would lower the vehicle when air was removed from them. It was this imagination that gave the boy the resourcefulness to solve a serious problem. Sadly, most researchers tell us that we lose a part of our creativity as we age. The innovative skills we learned at play as a child become lost as we enter adulthood. However, many solutions to difficult problems are easily solved if we learn to use our imagination and mentally step outside our comfort zone. This is a common problem in business today. Many managers believe that it takes millions of dollars, and a severe culture shock to solve large problems in their organizations. Like in the example above, when mountains are made out of molehills, problem solving can become more difficult and costly than it really needs to be.
As a leader, there will be many times when emergencies, unexpected circumstances or complications arise to block the path to our goals. There will also be times when rational and analytical thinking isn’t good enough to make the right or best decision! This is where we need to use our imagination as a resource to remove or to go around the obstacle. Remember that during these kinds of demanding situations we should never panic. We need a clear head and calm emotions to think logically and rapidly. In addition, we also need to maintain our composure in order for our imagination to be most effective and help us to arrive at a wise decision. The time for passion will arise later on when we act on the decision we have made, and make it happen!
Earlier in our series on The Twelve Principles of Personal Leadership we spoke about the essential need for vision. It is a compelling vision that feeds our desire to accomplish great things in life. Remember that our personal vision is the mental picture we have that inspires us to establish, and seek our goals during good times and bad! In this principle we will discuss the ability to once again tap into ourimagination to solve the many problems that threaten to block us in achieving our goals. This can be especially difficult for leaders who have a “black or white” view of the world. If we define every person, event or activity as “good or bad” or “right or wrong” we greatly limit our ability to solve problems creatively. The truth is that some things are indeed “good or bad”, but most things are neutral unless they are misused. To have a healthy creative imagination to solve problems requires us to be open-minded and look for the good in others and events, not the worse.
Obviously, to solve a problem requires that we keep going forward and not quit. Imagination is the resource that helps us to plow through an obstacle! Some folks have a good vivid imagination naturally and have a reputation as an “idea person”. But most of us need to do some research, seek advice and perform some analysis to “prime the pump” of our imagination. It often requires us to think differently than we normally do. Asking a series of “what if…” questions can often spark innovative solutions. Organizations have found that the imagination generated during “brainstorming” sessions can be very productive. However, the potential solutions we ponder should always be legal, ethical and not intended to harm others. Sadly, our prisons are populated with some very creative and imaginative individuals. They allowed their imagination to be used selfishly and to harm other people.
It is also important to realize that there is usually more than one solution to most problems. Even though it is desirable to find the best solution, it is not always practical. When this occurs, be open-minded, and don’t delay making a critical decision because you are searching for the perfect answer. Some managers even use this as an excuse not to make the important decisions that need to be made. When you have faced a difficult challenge and used your imagination as a resource to discover a solution, don’t stop there!
It is not enough to have imagination as a resource if you are unwilling to make the hard decisions. Possessing the right answer without the strength or will to implement it will not solve difficult problems. Some folks are good at finding solutions, but struggle to make decisions. It is easy to understand why many leaders want to avoid making decisions. There are a number of valid reasons. First of all, it is often risky! Risk is defined as the possibility of suffering harm, loss or danger. We tend to be comfortable in our patterns and expectations. Often times making a decision means we must step out of our “comfort zone” and into the unknown. Past experiences teach us that even a slight shift in our course can have dramatic effects on an outcome. On a personal level, we may have the right answersbut avoid making decisions about our family, careers or finances because of an aversion to risk and fear of failure. Secondly, leaders often make decisions while they are slightly ahead of the prevailing group or culture. It is often a lonely, thankless experience with little visible support. This situation is often compounded greatly when the leader has not taken the time and energy to build a strong consensus among others.
But here is an important point about decision-making and risk. We will frequently come to a crossroads in life or business where an important decision must be made. Then… we have a choice to make. Either we make the decision, or “time and chance” will decide for us what we were unwilling to decide for ourselves! Either way, a decision will be made. The question is, will we take charge and assume greater control of the outcome, or will we allow luck, chance or fate to determine the outcome for us? There is an old story about two men drifting on a raft traveling down the Niagara River toward the ominous Niagara Falls. They began to argue about how far they were from the falls and when they should go ashore. The argument continued and went on and on. While they haggled and delayed making a decision, time made the decision for them, with unfortunate results.
I am not suggesting that you to lurch into ill-advised or poor decision-making. Leaders should seek the facts, get advice, do the research and resourcefully find an answer. But there does come a time when a decision…the decision must be made! It has been said that former American President and World War II General Dwight D. Eisenhower once commented, “A wrong decision is better than indecision”. Think about why a military General would have made this comment. A wrong decision is at least a choice, and if that choice is wrong there if often enough time to retrench, regroup and alter the course. Creativity is flexible and can be modified early in the decision process. However, indecision only erodes precious time and often removes the option of an alternative choice from the decision maker. Sometimes the real risk is not taking one. As author and educator Gary Dessler states, “Very few decisions are forever; there is more “give” in most decisions than we realize. While many major strategic decisions are hard to reverse, most poor decisions won’t mean the end of the world for you, so don’t become frozen in the finality of your decision”.
At the heart and core of leadership is also the willingness to take personal responsibility for a difficult decision. On June 6, 1944, during World War II, General Eisenhower agonized over a difficult decision to allow Allied forces to land on the beaches of Normandy, France. The weather had been poor and threatened to derail the Allied assault. A window of opportunity was closing and it was time for decisive action. Eisenhower finally gave approval for the landing. However, he also took the time to write an “official statement” to the media in case the landing failed and the Allies were unable to secure a beachhead. In his handwritten announcement, Eisenhower accepted full responsibility for the failure. Thankfully, it was never needed!
Many experts in management believe that not all decisions are the same. They differentiate between what they call programmed and nonprogrammed decisions. Programmed decisions are defined as ones that are repetitive and can typically be resolved through rational analysis and mechanical procedures. It is believed that the overwhelming majority of decisions we make are programmeddecisions. Standard rules of deduction can be applied to these decision types. These kinds of decisions do not require a great degree of imagination.
On the other hand, nonprogrammed decisions are defined as unique in nature. These include crisis situations or when we have arrived at a personal crossroad in our life. Nonprogrammed decisions rely heavily on our judgment and values rather than clear-cut analysis. They are typically more urgent and require greater focus. We all must eventually face them… the tough agonizing decisions that often need to be based on incomplete information and unknown criteria! Sometimes there is no clear choice of what or who is absolutely right or wrong. There may be little “black and white”, but rather shades of gray. Using our positive ethics and deep-seated values as a guide, we will need to muster all the creativity and intuition we can find deep within ourselves for a solution. Because these nonprogrammed decisions are usually critical, the risk and consequences can be great, but don’t let that stop you from taking action when required!
Here are a few tips to improve your decision-making ability. Recognize the facts as they really are and not how you want to see them. It is easy to ignore or distort the truth because we already desire to support a particular answer . For example, those who study theology often fall prey to a problem called proof-texting. This is where the theologian first comes to a personal conclusion, and then looks for scriptures to support a preconceived belief. Many scientists are also guilty of the same problem. Maintain your objectivity so your decision is based on an intelligent analysis of the actual facts and not a preconceived decision. Along with analysis, don’t be afraid to use your heart as long as it is not blinded by raw emotion! A balanced decision is one that is made from both the head and the heart. This is where you make a decision based on accumulated experience, knowledge and intuition. Remember, having firm personal values and strong ethics is the foundation of good intuition. Psychiatrist Sigmund Freud stated,
“When making a decision of minor importance I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves. In the important decisions of our personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature.”
Obviously if the deep inner needs of our nature are centered on integrity and genuine concern for others, our intuition will serve us well. Another decision-making tip is to be careful not to useshortcuts to save time. A common shortcut is called heuristics. This is used to speed up decision-making by applying “rules of thumb” to quickly reach a conclusion. For example, a senior manager may say, “I only want individuals with advanced degrees to apply for this position”. Yes, this may speed up the selection process, but may also mean the best qualified or most talented individual is not even considered for the position. The final tip I offer is to avoid anchoring. The trait of anchoring is where we give too much credence to the first communication or set of facts that we hear. This first bit of information then becomes the benchmark by which the decision will be made and later information that is contrary to it is dismissed or minimized.
So the next time you are confronted with the need to make a decision, remember the little boy gazing at the truck stuck under a bridge. The best answer will require using your imagination as a resource. Challenge yourself to think differently and from a fresh perspective. When you have made a decision and an answer is at hand, don’t stop there! A leader’s calling is to make the hard decisions when they are needed. No one said the job is easy! Yes, there is a risk to decision-making, but there is often a greater risk when we do nothing and allow fate to decide for us. So be sure you gather the facts, get sound advice, and do the necessary research. Then make the decision. If you get stuck… maybe you need to just step back and look at things differently. Perhaps you will even need to let some of the air out!
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author:
Greg has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within the electrical distribution industry. Some of his positions have included being a National Sales Manager, National Marketing Manager and for the past 13 years that of Regional Sales Manager. He also has extensive experience in public speaking and has written articles for various publications. Greg has a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University where he presently serves as an adjunct professor teaching courses in business management and leadership. He is also the president and founder of weLEAD Incorporated.
Have you heard the story about a truck that got stuck under a bridge? It is said that a box truck was attempting to pass under a large bridge. As the truck driver approached the structure he felt there was enough room to clear the bottom of the steel and concrete deck of the bridge. But as he was passing under, he suddenly hear a loud screeching noise! The screech turned in to a grind and the lGreg L. Thomas Articles
“With ever-increasing public scrutiny, conducting effective school public relations campaigns is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessary!” (Newquist, 1997) In order to convince the public that their money is being spent effectively, schools must ensure they are viewed in a positive light whenever possible. In this day and age of tax increases and an uncertain economy, taxpayers want to know their tax dollars are not being wasted. Unlike other businesses that produce tangible products, the schools are often viewed as a money pit, because its investors, the taxpayers often do not see their dollars in action. However, schools do produce a product, and that is productive, knowledgeable members of society. The only way the taxpayers will be knowledgeable of this is if the school gets involved in public relations.
Unlike corporations, schools do not have unlimited revenue potential. Therefore what can the school do to promote itself, given its very limited and often non-existent monetary resources for public relations? The school can utilize its number one asset for public relations -- students. Students are often overlooked when it comes to public relations, however; they are a readily available public relations tool. Students’ knowledge and experiences are the products the schools produce. Hence, if their experiences are positive they will go into the community and share their experiences with other stakeholders, such as parents, community leaders, politicians, and other students.
Teachers are also vital in promoting a positive school image. The majority of students’ interactions will be with other students and teachers. Hence, teachers must make the students’ experiences at school both enlightening and positive. Teachers can ensure students have something positive to say when asked, “What did you do at school today?” At the end of each day or period the teacher can take a “few minutes to highlight the activities and accomplishments of the day” (Pawlas, 1999). Teachers must remember their actions are viewed as the actions of the school. Therefore, everything that is done must be done with the image of the school in mind.
Pawlas (1999) enumerates several other things teachers can do to develop a positive school image: do their best job of teaching, make the classroom inviting, dress up bulletin boards, make the first parent contact positive, give personal appearance a boost, attend community meetings, join professional organizations, get to know the newspaper’s education writer, and use classroom volunteers. Classroom volunteers from the community bring their knowledge to the classroom, at the same time they can see what is being is taught, how it is being taught, and the impact the teacher is having on the students. These volunteers will eventually take this positive information into the community.
Students, teachers and classroom volunteers are not the only people involved in promoting the school’s positive image. The administration must also take an active role in promoting the school’s image. It must share both the successes of the school, as well as the school’s failures, with the public. However, how information is disseminated is at the administration’s discretion. This is where planning comes in. Administrators want the school to be viewed in the best light possible. In essence, an assertive effort must be made to get positive information out about the school. This should be an ongoing process, “the more times positive mentions of your school or district appear in the media, the more the public will perceive your schools in a positive light” (Newquist, 1997). Therefore, administrators must have a plan to get information of successes to the media.
The school’s administrators should develop a relationship with the media. Why? Schools that contact the media often, get more attention! As a result, the administrators must develop a plan to bombard the media with the school’s successes. This can be done by inviting “reporters and editors to special functions to show them ‘good news’ in action” (Newquist, 1997). However this should not occur once, it should be ongoing. The administrators should develop a relationship with the school reporters for the newspaper and television news. Important information such as duties, telephone numbers, fax numbers, e-mail addresses and other pertinent information should be kept by the administrator. When successes and positive activities occur at the school these people should be invited and sent photographs and videotapes. In addition, administrators should encourage teachers to photograph, videotape and document classroom highlights that can be shared with the media.
Unfortunately, there will be times when failures or negative information, such as declining test scores, school violence, staff reduction, and other things must be released about the school. The administrators must “be prepared to tell the facts right away” (Newquist, 1999). First, the staff should be made aware of the situation and the facts, immediately. Secondly the parents should be notified. This can be done with a clear concise letter that states the facts and the school’s plan of action. People tend to accept change more readily when they are armed with information. (Hersey, Blanchard, & Johnson, 2001, p. 389). Thirdly, the administrators should delegate one individual who is thoroughly knowledgeable of the situation to speak with the media. A written statement should be prepared and used as a reference. The delegate should not say anything they are not now willing to have printed. They should speak slowly and clearly, and they should remember the goal is to disseminate the information while preserving the school’s good image.
In spite of what the Sprite commercials say, image is everything! Thus, in order to ensure the school is viewed in a positive light, everyone in the school must make an assertive effort to project a positive image for the school. This includes teachers who ensure students’ experiences are positive, and maintain positive communications with the parents and community. It also includes students and classroom volunteers who can tell their families and community about positive experiences at school. Lastly, the administrators must be straightforward and honest with parents, teachers and the media when disseminating information on the school’s successes, as well as its failures.
Hersey, P.; Blanchard, K.; & Johnson, D. (2001). Management of Organizational Behavior: Leading Human
Resources (8th edition).
Newquist, C. (1999). Public relations 101: How-to tips for school administrators. Obtained online at:
Newquist, C. (1997). Best face forward. Obtained online at:
Comments to: email@example.com
Pawlas, G. (1999, May). Working magic on the school image [Electronic version]. The Education Digest 64(9),
About the author:
Shanika Taylor has taught science at the middle school level, in Miami-Dade County Public Schools for five years. She has also taught Introduction to Education at Miami-Dade Community College. She is presently certified in Educational Leadership, Middle Grades Science, and Business Education. During the past five years, she has served as the science club chairperson, published the school newspaper, and mentored new teachers. She has earned a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University and a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Florida International University. Currently, she is working on a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership, with a concentration in Organizational Leadership, at Nova Southeastern University. In 1997, she was nominated for the Sallie Mae Beginning Teacher of the Year Award. Upon completing her doctoral degree, Shanika plans to teach at the university level, conduct research and consult.
*Image courtesy of David Castello Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“With ever-increasing public scrutiny, conducting effective school public relations campaigns is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessary!” (Newquist, 1997) In order to convince the public that their money is being spent effectively, schools must ensure they are viewed in a positive light whenever possible. In this day and age of tax increases and an uncertain economy, taxpayers want to knShanika Taylor Articles
"The self-explorer, whether he wants to or not, becomes the explorer of everything else. He learns to see himself, but suddenly, provided he was honest, all the rest appears, and it is as rich as he was, and, as a final crowning, richer." — Elias Canetti, The Secret Heart of the Clock. Austrian novelist, philosopher
An ass found a lion's skin, and dressed himself up in it. Then he went about frightening every one he met, for they all took him to be a lion, men and beasts alike, and took to their heels when they saw him coming. Elated by the success of his trick, he loudly brayed in triumph. The fox heard him, and recognized him at once for the ass he was, and said to him, "Oho, my friend, it's you, is it? I, too, should have been afraid if I hadn't heard your voice."
This classic Aesop fable shows how easy it is to play a part — to be someone else. But those closest to us will eventually see through us. The key question is — can I see myself? Can I recognize my own inner voice? Do I listen to what it is telling me? Am I drawn into roles, jobs, or relationships that I am not cut out for? Am I following the path that society or someone thinks I should be on or am I blazing my own path? Am I following my heart?
Reputation is what people think I am. Personality is what I seem to be. Character is what I really am. Our goal should be to blur the lines between the three until they are one and the same. That means living my life from the inside out. When I live my life from the outside in, appearances are everything. What other people think of me and want from me becomes my guiding principle. That means my confidence and self-image is out of my control. I set myself up to be a victim of the fickle opinion of others. The harder I try to make an impression, then that is exactly the impression I make.
As a leader, I do want to serve others and need to know how others see me. However, I can't serve, support, or guide others if I am not coming from a strong inner core. Only if I believe in myself can I generate believers. In Hamlet, William Shakespeare writes, "this above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." A modern storyteller, television producer Norman Lear, puts similar advice into modern terms, "First and foremost, find out what it is you're about, and be that. Be what you are, and don't lose it. It's very hard to be who we are, because it doesn't seem to be what anyone wants."
Continually peeling back the layers of who we are is a life long effort. It's the leadership process of “becoming”. Our own inner space is as vast as outer space. Like the many generations of Star Trekkers, we can "boldly go where no one has gone before" as we continue to push back the frontiers of self-knowledge. If we're going to continue to deepen and grow, it's our own never ending discovery trek.
"The process of spiritual growth is an effortful and difficult one. This is because it is conducted against a natural resistance, against a natural inclination to keep things the way they were, to cling to the old maps and old ways of doing things, to take the easy path." — M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled
A timeless principle of inside out leadership is continuous personal growth. When U.S. Supreme Court associate justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., was hospitalized at the age of 92, President Roosevelt went to visit him. He found Holmes reading a Greek Primer. "Why are you reading that?" the president asked. The great jurist replied, "Why, Mr. President, to improve my mind."
Continuous personal improvement means we often outgrow our own standards and what we previously thought was acceptable. A dull author once complained to William Dean Howells, the 19th century editor of Atlantic Monthly (he encouraged a number of writers including Mark Twain and Henry James). "I don't seem to write as well as I used to," the mediocre writer grumbled. "Oh yes you do...indeed you do," Howells reassured him, "It's your taste that is improving."
We need to find the combination of reflection, networking, participating in learning events, training, discussions, taking on new assignments and responsibilities, experimenting, — or whatever — that keep us stretching and growing. Reading is a powerful way to stretch our minds and keep growing. Not all readers are leaders, but most lifelong leaders are avid readers. A Gallup Poll found that high-income people read an average of nineteen books per year.
The 19th century president of Harvard University, Charles William Eliot said, "Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers." "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body," declared the 18th century writer, Sir Richard Steele. I heartily agree. However, as an author I will admit to a little bias on the subject.
Continuous learning, growing, and developing helps us find the path that is personal and unique to us. Ways of doing things depend upon tools and techniques. This can range from how to operate a machine, use a software program, deal with a customer, manage a process, cook a meal, or resolve a conflict. There are no tools or techniques for ways of being. We all need to keep searching, growing, and developing those ways that are true to our inner selves and take us where we want to go.
There are no quick-and-easy formulas to leadership development. In his book, The Heart Aroused, poet David Whyte illustrates how difficult it can be to find our own way. "In my experience, the more true we are to our own creative gifts the less there is an outer reassurance or help at the beginning. The more we are on the path, the deeper the silence in the first stages of the process. Following our path is in effect a kind of going off the path, through open country, there is a certain early stage when we are left to camp out in the wilderness, alone, with few supporting voices. Out there in the silence we must build a hearth, gather the twigs, and strike the flint for the fire ourselves...if we can see the path laid out for us, there is a good chance it is not our path: it is probably someone else's we have substituted for our own. Our own path must be deciphered every step of the way."
The unknown author of the following story entitled "The Moth," illustrates the necessity for struggling to find our own way:
A man found a cocoon of an emperor moth. He took it home so that he could watch the moth come out of the cocoon. On that day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the moth for several hours as the moth struggled to force the body through that little hole.
Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and it could go no farther. It just seemed to be stuck.
Then the man, in his kindness, decided to help the moth, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon. The moth then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch the moth because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.
Neither happened! In fact, the little moth spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the moth to get through the tiny opening was the way of forcing fluid from the body of the moth into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Freedom and flight would only come after the struggle.
By depriving the moth of a struggle, he deprived the moth of health. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If we were to go through our life without any obstacles, we would be crippled. We would not be as strong as what we could have been.
About the author:
Excerpted from Jim Clemmer's latest bestseller, Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success. Jim Clemmer is an international keynote speaker, workshop leader, author, and president of The CLEMMER Group, a North American network of organization, team, and personal improvement consultants based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. His recent bestsellers include Pathways to Performance: A Guide to Transforming Yourself, Your Team, and Your Organization, and Firing on All Cylinders: The Service/Quality System for High-Powered Corporate Performance. His web site is http://www.clemmer.net/.
*Image courtesy of vorakorn/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
"The self-explorer, whether he wants to or not, becomes the explorer of everything else. He learns to see himself, but suddenly, provided he was honest, all the rest appears, and it is as rich as he was, and, as a final crowning, richer." — Elias Canetti, The Secret Heart of the Clock. Austrian novelist, philosopher An ass found a lion's skin,Jim Clemmer Articles
During the last week of the month of July 2002, much of the USA was transfixed with the rescue of miners beneath the earth in Somerset, Pennsylvania. For 77 hours the news media ran constant updates on the fate of 9 trapped miners. I was one of the people who found myself attracted to the story and its outcome for a number of reasons.
First, by coincidence, while they were trapped, I stayed overnight at a Hampton Inn in Somerset, PA during a business trip. I had chosen that night and location a week earlier only because it was right off the PA Turnpike. A number of TV reporters stayed at the same facility. Secondly, the event had all the ingredients of a great news story…tragedy, fear, tension, hope, triumph and a wonderful ending. There was something else inherent in this story that was covered sparingly by the news media. It is the outstanding example of leadership demonstrated by so many fine people. In this article I would like to examine the chronological events of the rescue and provide some lessons we can all learn from them. As we go through these events and review the lessons to be learned, ask yourself how they might apply to your business, family or community.
Wednesday, July 24th
A number of miners are working 240 feet below the earth mining for coal. The Quecreek mine they are laboring in is close to an older abandoned (Saxman) mine that has previously been flooded with water. Supplied with outdated maps and information, the Saxman mine is not expected to be adjacent to where they are digging. The miners accidentally break through the wall of the abandoned mine, allowing over 50 million gallons of water to rapidly flood their mining location. Nine of the miners are able to escape the waters out of the mine entrance by fleeing 1½ miles to the top. However, 9 other miners are left trapped. The waters quickly engulf the mine sealing the entrance and forcing the trapped miners to seek the highest point underground. They eventually gather together in a higher pocket of the mine, but the waters continue to swell, making the prospect of drowning a real possibility! They are virtually trapped and helpless with no possible way of escape. For a while they have radio contact with the other group of miners who escaped but they soon lose all contact. It will take a miraculous rescue to save them, or they are absolutely doomed to die. All they can do is hang on together and wait.
Leadership Lesson: These men had been trained in effective safety procedures. Because of their extensive past training they know what to do in an emergency! They gather themselves together in one location where they believe they have the best opportunity for survival from the rushing waters. These are individuals who understand the necessity of contingency planning. When an emergency strikes it is too late to “wish” I had considered this possibility before! They knew what to do because they had previously been taught to analyze potential situations like this and had mentally rehearsed how to respond this kind of a crisis. When the emergency occurred, they were almost able to respond instinctively and effectively. We too need to think and plan ahead for contingency situations. To ask the question “what if” is not intended to make one paranoid or over anxious, but to consider the possibilities that exist. Sometimes these possibilities are unpleasant but a leader knows the importance of at least mentally rehearsing plan “B” or “C” ahead of time in case plan “A” backfires.
Workers who escaped the mine inform those working on top that the tragedy has occurred. Without hesitation, it is decided that an airshaft pipe must immediately be sunk into the mine to provide fresh and warm compressed air. There is serious concern about hypothermia setting in since the mine and water temperatures are in the 55-degree range. It will also help stabilize an air bubble in the mine keeping the waters at bay from engulfing the miners. No one knows exactly where they are! However, the other miners who escaped know where the trapped miners were working. These miners who escaped offer valuable input on where they might be located.
Leadership Lesson: This is a time for immediate decision-making skills. The issue is life or death and there is no time to debate the merits of an airshaft. Remember that the most effective type of leadership in emergency situations is autocratic leadership by an individual who knows what to do and has the courage to demand it. There is no time for committee meetings, consensus building or impact studies. The most important decision of the entire rescue is made right here to get warm compressed air to the miners ASAP! The problem with many individuals is that they are autocratic in all situations, including non-emergency situations. By doing this they fail to use the needed talent and experience of others in making daily routine decisions. By always having an autocratic demeanor they alienate other highly talented people and make some big mistakes because they don’t listen to others well. Do you remember the example of the former Mayor of New York City, Rudy Guiliani? Before the tragic events of 9/11 he was harshly criticized for his overbearing leadership in guiding the city. However, during and after the events of 9/11, his autocratic style was exactly what was needed during a time of extreme emergency and urgent decision-making needs. There is a difference between the rare emergency response needed in times of crisis and the most effective response in typical situations. Want to be a highly effective leader? Know the difference!
Bob Long has just gone to bed. He gets a phone call about the disaster. Bob is an engineer for CMI engineering in Somerset, PA. Bob has $60,000 worth of military grade high-tech surveying equipment in the back of his Chevy Blazer. He is told, “We need your GPS stuff down here right now!” It is Bob who will decide exactly where this 6” airshaft will be located. Bob uses his laptop computer and a sophisticated Global Positioning System to communicate with a satellite and determine the coordinates of the mine location. At 1:15 AM on Thursday morning, Bob drives a stake into the ground at the precise spot they will drill. It is believed to be directly over the area of the mine where the trapped miners would have gathered together. It is in a farm field right off an access road near the highway. However, an error of a few feet either way might miss the tunnel pocket entirely. Since it takes hours to drill a 6”diameter hole 240 feet into the earth, they don’t have the time to poke around until they find the right spot. The drilling begins with not only the 6” airshaft, but with other shafts intended to pump water out of the mine and lower the water level. Rescuers have requested a special 30” diameter drill to be sent from West Virginia to drill a rescue shaft.
Leadership Lesson: Bob Long is a real hero. He has the training, skills and tools needed to get the job done right the first time! But he doesn’t act alone. First he must find out from others where they truly believe the trapped miners have taken refuge. He must use all the skills he possesses to set up the equipment correctly, take the right measurements, enter the correct input on his laptop computer, double check his measurements and analyze the results. Then he must decide, and accept the responsibility for his final decision. This is not the time to wish he had taken that “other” class last year or bought the new laptop a month ago. It is a time to focus, use all the skills at your present disposal, and get the job done. He does his job well, drives in the stake where the digging is to begin and totally accepts the pressure this task has required. Too many individuals suffer from analysis paralysis and become ineffective because they won’t make the difficult decisions. They will often find 100 reasons why they can’t. Effective leadership requires using all the tools presently at your disposal, making the decision and accepting responsibility for it. For more information on “analysis paralysis” read our weLEAD March 2002 Tip of the Month located here!
Thursday, July 25th
After a few hours of drilling, the 6” airshaft is dug and the pipe is sunk into the ground. The miners are reached and are in the location where they were expected to be! The shaft begins pumping warm compressed air into the ground. The miners tap on the shaft to let the rescuers know they are still alive. The taps continue until about noon. But with so much drilling going on it is very hard to hear them.
Leadership Lesson: The miners communicated back to the rescuers that they were alive and appreciated the effort to help them. They banged on the pipe and on the ceiling to communicate they were still alive and in need of rescue. Great leaders seek and desire communication from others. Remember that communication is a two-way street and it is far more than simply the expression of words. Communication is also expressed in our gestures, facial features, personal demeanor and how we react to events. Yet, the most important words a leader can give to someone who is struggling on the job, at school or at home is “I care, and I am here to help.”
A 30-inch-diameter drill arrives from West Virginia to drill a shaft wide enough to drop a rescue cage and pull the miners to the surface. Drilling begins in the evening and is expected to last 18 hours to reach miners if all goes well.
Friday, July 26
Unfortunately, all does not go well! After drilling down only 100 feet the bit on the giant drill breaks while drilling through hard dense rock. This temporarily halts all digging efforts. This is a discouraging blow to rescue efforts. Workers attempt to remove the bit with a tool that was supposed to grab it and twist it loose, but the shank of the bit was stripped and it wouldn’t budge. It would end up taking 14½ hours simply to get the broken bit out of the hole.
Drilling begins on a second rescue shaft while workers try to get the broken drill bit out of first hole.
Leadership Lesson: Life is full of disappointments. Sometimes the best efforts and finest motives of leaders still must confront large problems. But leaders don’t give up or quit. They reach deep down to solve difficult problems and overcome obstacles. Don’t ever forget the classic short commencement speech given by Winston Churchill where he powerfully told a graduating class only a few short words that included…never give up! Leaders also step out of the box and look for creative solutions to problems. In this case, if the first rescue shaft is halted, start another one. As it turned out, it is now believed by some observers that this may have been a blessing in disguise. It is possible that if the 30” drill-bit had not broken, and the miners had been reached this early, it may have created suction or flooding of the mine pocket because not enough water had yet been pumped out! Leadership requires imagination and flexibility when plan “A” is often thwarted.
U.S. Navy personnel arrive with hyperbaric pressure chambers in case rescued miners need decompression to avoid the bends. It is also later planned to have 9 EMS vehicles ready to drive the miners for medical care and 9 helicopters ready to fly them to medical facilities if necessary.
Saturday, July 27
While the drilling continues, crews begin reviewing and practicing underground rescue procedures they'll perform if the trapped miners are found alive.
Leadership Lesson: Notice the advance planning and strategy. People are not simply standing around and wringing their hands. Leaders are thinking one, two, and three steps ahead! What if the EMS vehicles are too far away from the right medical facility? We will use helicopters. What if the miners have the bends? We will have hyperbaric chambers on site. What if we find the miners are in “such and such” condition or situation? We will have rescue crews practicing procedures beforehand for most any contingency. The same holds true for any leader. We must think one, two, three steps ahead of where we are right now. How do we do this? It is easy if we have a vision. The vision in this mining crisis was to bring the miners out alive. This vision naturally led to a number of questions that begged for real solutions. The same is true for us and if you struggle to think or plan ahead it is probably because you really don’t have a well-defined vision for yourself or your organization.
After contact with family members, Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker tells the media that the original first escape shaft has been drilled to a depth of 214 feet. This is just 23 feet from where the miners were thought to be located. Also by this time, shaft No. 2 was at a depth of about 190 feet.
The drill breaks into chamber pocket where the trapped miners are all huddled. The rescuers lower a phone and contact the miners.
Gov. Mark Schweiker announces to the world that all nine miners are alive.
Leadership Lesson: There was great sensitivity throughout this event to keep family members constantly informed and notified about achievements before the media or general public was informed. Communication with family was a high priority. Today’s leaders are expected to be sensitive caring individuals who treat others with the respect and dignity they deserve. It is insensitive and selfish to seek or grab attention, or to be the first to “break the news” without considering the people who have the right to hear it first. Think how many recent corporate workers have discovered their fate on television news or in the newspaper rather than hearing it directly from the so-called leaders of the corporation. I am sure this rescue operation was far from perfect. I am also sure there were some strong egos demonstrated by some of the rescue team. But overall, this entire effort reflected a model of servant leadership as everything and everyone took a secondary role to keeping the miners alive, bringing them out of the mine and comforting their families during the long wait.
Sunday, July 28
The rescue cage is lowered into the mine. Randy Fogle is the first miner pulled from the rescue shaft and the rest of the miners come in 10-15 minute intervals. The other miners in the order of their rescue include Harry "Blaine" Mayhugh, Thomas Foy, John Unger, John Phillippi, Ron Hileman, Dennis J. Hall, Robert Pugh Jr., and Mark Popernack. A statement by miner Harry Mayhugh during a press interview highlights my final leadership lesson. He was asked the following questions and gave the following replies…
Q: How were you guys holding on?
MAYHUGH: “Snuggling each other. Laying up against each other or sitting back to back to each other, anything to produce body heat, you know.“
Q: How -- who was it that really kept you together?
MAYHUGH: “Everybody. Everybody had strong moments. But any certain time maybe one guy got down and then the rest pulled together, and then that guy would get back up and maybe someone else would feel a little weaker, but it was a team effort. That's the only way it could have been.”
Leadership Lesson: Teamwork is what real leadership is all about. It took a large team of individuals to make this rescue successful. Each had their own unique skills and talents to offer. What if there had been no one like Bob Long and his GPS equipment available? What if there had been no one to operate the big 30” drill? What if there had been no one to drill the 6” airshaft? What if there had been no one to connect pumps, or electrical systems, or administrators, planners, or medical personnel? Teams wisely rely on the collective talent they possess to achieve great things. Great leaders know their own limitations and put together teams to create an unlimited synergy for success. The miners were a team. They worked together, struggled together and were willing to die together by even tying themselves up as a single team. The miners knew they were in this situation together. They huddled together for comfort, strength and encouragement. They relied on each other for emotional support. Individually they would become discouraged and weak. But, together they encouraged each other and were hopeful. The lesson here is the remarkable power of teamwork. Here is an undisputable fact… a team of determined individuals committed to a great cause is far more than the sum of its parts! This is a vital lesson for modern leaders to ponder. If you think about it, no single individual stood out as the leader during this entire crisis. Yes, the governor was given a prominent TV presence, but even he would admit that he was not the single leader. Why? They were a team…all leaders…all-pulling toward achieving the same vision and goal…each playing their vital part.
The mining accident in Somerset, PA concluded with a positive and happy ending. A nation watched, prayed and rejoiced to see the successful conclusion. The entire event was a fine example of leadership in many different dimensions. People know how to pull together and demonstrate leadership in tragic emergency situations. We have seen this recently in the World Trade Center disaster and in this mining rescue. Mankind has been occasionally able to do this for thousands of years in virtually every culture. Yes, many fine people seem to almost instinctively know how to do this in rare or catastrophic situations.
But a truly great people will learn how to make this kind of leadership part of their culture every day!
Why not start today?
Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author:
Greg has over 20 years of sales and marketing experience within the electrical distribution industry. Some of his positions have included being a National Sales Manager, National Marketing Manager and for the past 10 years that of Regional Sales Manager. He also has extensive experience in public speaking and has written articles for various publications. Greg has a Master of Arts degree in Leadership from Bellevue University where he presently serves as an adjunct faculty member teaching courses in management. Greg is also the president and founder of weLEAD Incorporated.
During the last week of the month of July 2002, much of the USA was transfixed with the rescue of miners beneath the earth in Somerset, Pennsylvania. For 77 hours the news media ran constant updates on the fate of 9 trapped miners. I was one of the people who found myself attracted to the story and its outcome for a number of reasons. First, by coincidence, while they wereGreg L. Thomas Articles
Teamwork, Productivity and Creativity. We have long paid these particular leadership concepts a lot of lip service, never more so than now, as insurance companies, banks, communications companies and hospitals struggle to do more with less. Alliances and mergers, for example, so prominent in today's business setting, are the very essence of teamwork. But there is a big gap between talking about this kind of leadership, learning the skills…and living it.
Well intentioned chief executive officers ask themselves: "I've set up incentives for creative problem-solving, used specific measures in assessing performance, initiated training in team approaches, yet I'm still not seeing an impact on my bottom line. What am I overlooking?"
More often than not, the answer is….their own behavior. For several decades, executives have sought to improve performance, especially that of their staff; but what about their own performance? Why is it so difficult to make changes?
First, many decision makers do not have an appropriate understanding of how to recognize and measure leadership performance. Secondly, the right behavior is not rewarded. Executives know they can and should improve their own behavior, but are not held accountable for achieving these improvements. Nor are these changes rewarded. When performance is tied to achieving results and executives are rewarded for these changes, only then will changes occur.
How can we Measure Leadership Performance?
Leaders treat people with care and respect. They are people willing to take risks to improve a situation, and seek creative solutions along the way. Frequently they are the quiet success stories that are rarely spotlighted.
Leadership can be measured and rewarded using the leadership performance criteria of Teamwork, Productivity and Creativity. Let's examine this Performance Management process briefly.
Measure and Reward Teamwork
Be a caring friend: Leadership begins with Teamwork, and teamwork begins with caring and respect. Start simply. Have fun together. Get to know each other. Become friends. Do what you can to help each other, whether it be a colleague, staff member, customer or supplier.
Example: An unidentified $2.88 charge continued to be billed on the AT&T/Qwest telephone bill, month after month. During a call to AT&T, the customer questioned this overdue charge, and refused to pay until it was explained. The representative listened carefully, put the customer on hold while she contacted the local carrier, came back on the line, explained the delay and asked for patience. When she returned, she requested that the customer call the local carrier and explained why she could not help further.
The Qwest (local carrier) representative listened to the customer's story and took the initiative to erase the past due balance, stating that it was more trouble to find the source of the problem. A win-win agreement was achieved.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Negotiating process
Measure: An agreement
Be respectful and build communication bridges: Learn how to speak respectfully and avoid roadblocks. Some roadblocks include: giving orders ("Don't write like that"), belittling ("That's silly"), reassuring ("You'll get over it"), denying ("You can't still be angry"), or giving solutions ("This is how you should handle it"). The effect of these roadblocks is that people learn not to come to you with their problems.
Example: Melissa, eight years old, was adopted from the streets of Calcutta, India in 1988. When she arrived in America, she spoke no English, had never been to school, and had lied and stolen to survive. Over the next five years, I loved and parented her as best I knew.
During her first year of school, her confidence and successes developed. In the following years, she commented that she 'didn't like school' and eventually refused to attend. By the time she was 12 in 1993, her behavior worsened. She ran away from home and school.
How could I build trust and influence the then-withdrawn Melissa to share her thoughts and feelings? The key to success was "getting acquainted", the second step of the negotiating process. I was determined to treat the now-teen Melissa with dignity, respect and tolerance. Instead of: "Put on your coat", I explained, "The forecast is for snow. You might think about…"
When I forgot to use this approach, she became defiant. I admitted my own mistakes, was patient with her mistakes, suggested alternative behavior and reasons why, and praised our smallest achievements. Most important were the humor, talks and laughs we shared. Gradually she shared her feelings and problems were resolved.
In corporate management, this function is known as counseling, mentoring, and building trust through fun, sharing and humor.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Negotiating process
Measure: Getting acquainted (talking)
Reward: Praise, fun
As a suggestion, make teamwork part of your performance criteria, and measure yourself by attempting to achieve an agreement though the process of negotiating-- illustrated by a handshake, a kind word, a smile, a hug or something in writing, and rewarded by praise or fun. Talking in terms of explanations, descriptions, experiences, and humor is the basis of developing relationships.
Measure and Reward Productivity
First let's examine what we mean by productivity, since it can represent different things to many people. Productivity includes structured processes, and knowing and understanding such processes; and specific productivity techniques and tools, including streamlining and simplicity.
The common processes in the managing function include planning, designing (life cycle), negotiating, and creating. The planning process, for example, has a specific set of steps, each of which results in a written document. These documents--which also serve as measures of quality--generally include:
* Organization charts which identify function and sometimes the name of one responsible person
* Work breakdown structures which break down the work to be done into systematic tree-like structures
* Schedules, both master and detailed
Various types of reviews and tests are quality measures of the design-build life cycle which is integrated within the planning cycle. Nested within the latter is the writing cycle since most, if not all, of management and planning efforts result in a document of some kind. These processes are integrated, occur frequently, and constantly cycle.
Learn the Correct Processes: Some common processes in management include: the planning and controls process, known by various names; the life cycle or design-build process; the writing process; the creativity process; and the negotiating process. These are the same whether one builds airplanes, runs a hospital, or manages a bank. The difference is in tailoring.
Example: During the beginning of a facility relocation project at The Boeing Company, team members had limited understanding of the project and were unclear about details of work to be done and team member responsibilities.
A statement of work, or a project description document, was developed and used as a discussion document during the kick-off meeting to introduce the major details of the project to the team members. This document served to increase common understanding and minimized miscommunication by the project team.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Planning process
Measure: Statement of work
Result: Improved understanding
As a suggestion, make productivity (including processes) part of your performance criteria and reward yourself for learning and using the right process measures.
Measure and Reward Simplicity
Examples of some productivity tools and techniques include: mind-mapping, doing all the same function at one time, being selective with perfection, putting it in writing, having more than one use for something, streamlining and simplicity. Not surprisingly, everywhere people speak of their frustration with complexity-- complexity in writing, methods, excessively large teams, duplicate resources. Then, why not measure and reward simplicity?
Example: At The Boeing Company, a supervisor simplified the training schedules, eliminated abbreviations to improve clarity and communication, reduced schedules to one format, used an easier graphics software tool, enabling the preparation of schedules in under one hour instead of two days, and surfaced numerous existing meeting rooms that were available for use and were previously unused. This eliminated the problem of double-booking meeting/training rooms.
Therefore key points are:
Process: Writing process
Measure: Something written, clearly and simply
Result: Increased understanding, efficiency
Reward: Praise, personal growth
As a suggestion, make productivity (including simplicity) part of your performance criteria and reward yourself for all types of productivity. Examples of simplicity in productivity might include the size of a document, the clarity of writing, the size of teams, the number of resources used, and the types of rewards offered.
Measure and Reward Creativity
A leader could be defined as a person:
- willing to take risks
- who is productive, efficient and has personal standards
- who is a caring, respectful team player.
Leadership is not the same as management, and has nothing to do with status or title. Anyone can be a leader, if they have the courage to make changes.
Be creative and take risks. Admitting/forgiving mistakes build trust.
In the trial and error process of making improvements, leaders must take risks, be kind, tolerant, and admit (and forgive) their own mistakes. Lewis Lehr, former chairman and chief executive officer of 3M Corporation states: "I am tempted to say that innovation at 3M works in spite of top management".
Example: When the once- rebellious Melissa was asked what contributed to her willingness to be creative in terms of cooking and tasting new foods, developing school reports, and making creative gifts, she commented: "It was 'talking', in terms of explanations, demonstrations, and praise, and that it is all right for us to make mistakes because that is how we learn".
Therefore key points are:
Process: Creativity process
Measure: An idea
Reward: Fun, praise
As a suggestion, make creativity part of your performance criteria and reward yourself for all types of creativity and results. Admitting and sharing mistakes build trust. Creativity, humor, and fun reduce tension, promote trust, and help build friendships in the journey towards teamwork. Reward yourself with something fun when you achieve your own goals.
Assessing and Rewarding Our Own Performance
Many organizations and executives are seeking ISO certification and Baldrige criteria performance assessments to determine how well their corporations are doing in terms of quality. While quality seems to vary, the area that most needs strengthening is leadership.
What's the answer? Consider using a leadership performance criteria that will discourage bureaucracy, cronyism and empire building, and measure your own performance. Reward yourself for your achievements. Explore using simple, yet fun rewards such as time off, free time, favorite work, fun, praise and recognition. If you find it difficult to reward yourself and have fun, perhaps you might start working on changing your own behavior.
Large staff and budgets erode morale. When there is a performance management system in place that rewards executives for teamwork, productivity and creativity-- and top managers exemplify this in their own personal practices--organizations will surely succeed. And learning teamwork by having fun and building trust is the best place to start.
Comments to: email@example.com
*Image courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Teamwork, Productivity and Creativity. We have long paid these particular leadership concepts a lot of lip service, never more so than now, as insurance companies, banks, communications companies and hospitals struggle to do more with less. Alliances and mergers, for example, so prominent in today's business setting, are the very essence of teamwork. But there is a big gap between talking aboutJT Carr Articles
- Employee engagement
- Employee motivation
- Leadership Development
- Leadership Principles
- Leadership Styles
- Leadership Tips
- Management development
- Organizational Culture
- Organizational Design
- Organizational leadership
- Personal leadership
- Sales Techniques
- Servant leadership
- Transformational leadership
- Workplace Challenges